Travel Not Only Broadens The
Mind - It Heals It
Positive effects of travel on mental health
Travelling is great. There are plenty of people in the world who would cite ‘travelling’ as one of their major
dreams - whether they have a specific destination in mind or not! New sights, new cultures, new languages, new
climates...travel is an eye-opening experience, which, as everyone knows can seriously ‘broaden the mind’. But did you know that travel can also heal the mind? It’s true. There’s a
lot more to the concept of ‘travel-as-therapy’ than New Age narratives about ‘finding oneself’ on the road.
Travel really can have tangible, positive effects on your mental health.
|Positive travel experiences will broaden your horizons and create stimulating
on your mental health and emotional stability.
A Change is as Good as a Rest
There’s an old British saying - ‘A change is as good as a rest’. When applied to travel, there’s a surprising
amount of truth to this. The thing about getting out of your familiar surroundings, you see, is that you also get
out of your familiar obligations. Many of us, when we try to take a ‘rest’ at home, find ourselves bombarded with
feelings of guilt about chores or work we could be doing, but aren’t.
This is particularly true for people caring for others - who often chronically overwork themselves, despite
arguably needing to give themselves more rest time than usual. Going travelling - even if it’s just taking a night
in a hotel the next town over - takes you away from your chores, your work, your stressful responsibilities. And
that forces you to relax and give yourself the ‘mental downtime’ that your brain really, really needs in order to be healthy.
Of course, if you find the experience of being away from your responsibilities inherently stressful in and of
itself, it may be an idea to set a few contingencies in place before heading away on vacation. Or to not vacation
at all. Everyone is different! However, in general, if you’re the kind who finds it hard to rest at home (despite
sorely needing to!), try a change of scenery.
|Just making a change of scenery in your life will create a positive effect on your
which will be further enhanced by your travel experience.
Openness and Emotional Stability
Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and heading into new territories can make you much more open generally
to new experiences. That’s not just great from a general societal point of view - it can also help you to manage
your own emotional reactions. According to research on personality, people who are more ‘open’ are also more
emotionally stable - they don’t react with excessive amounts of stress, anger, or dangerous euphoria to unfamiliar
experiences. Follow-up research found that those who travel tend to acquire more ‘open’ personalities
during the course of their experiences. This in turn makes them more able to cope with changes and developments
in their daily lives which may otherwise have provoked bad emotional reactions. In a nutshell, people who travel
tend to gain a degree of emotional stability and resilience which is invaluable for good mental health.
A Sense of Perspective
When someone is stressed and/or depressed, they tend to live inside their own heads. From here, their problems
get magnified until they encompass the sufferer’s entire world. It’s a miserable situation to be in, trapped in a
horrible world of your brain’s own devising. Travel, however, can help. When someone heads out to a new place,
they’re forced out of their own head - partly in order to concentrate on
where they’re going, and partly because the novelty of an unfamiliar location tempts even the most depressed
brain to sit up and take notice.
Why is this good? Because getting out of one’s head is essential for getting a sense of perspective. This does
not work for everyone, but for those whom it does work for, it’s often been a crucial turning point in recovery
from depression and anxiety. Getting away from the familiar gets you out of your own head, and shows you the bigger
world picture. From this point, you can start to understand that your issues really aren’t the be all and end all -
that life really does go on.
|When you travel abroad you will gain a new sense of perspective,
improve your understanding of other cultures and the world in general.
Beware Travel Stress!
Having said all this, it’s worth noting as a proviso that arranging travel can be a stressful experience, which
you may want to enlist help for if you’re suffering from a stress-triggered mental illness. Furthermore, not all
nations and people respond well to certain signs of mental illness. It’s as well to check the kind of reactions
that your symptoms may provoke before heading to any location. Of course, many cultures may prove more
understanding and accepting than your own - which can in itself be a profoundly healing experience! But do your
research before committing to anything!